Let’s talk about Style: Why exactly should you have one? Why do I care so much about encouraging other artists to find their unique style? Does it really matter?
Well, it matters a lot to me because I’m a Type 4 on the Enneagram which means that I would rather die than be unoriginal. I also value individuality and artistry both in my business and life, and have for as long as I can remember. I believe that it should matter to other calligraphers too, because your style - along with your creative voice and unique perspective - is what has the power to set you apart, and elevate your brand above the crowd.
A little back story: I first learned calligraphy by taking an in-person class, once a week for several weeks. Over the course of that Fall “semester” and afterwards, I noticed that my fellow students started having a very similar look to their work. Of course, that’s fine when you’re first learning - your work is bound to resemble the example you’re learning from. But for me, it was very important to avoid - partly because I’m an Enneagram 4 and that means that all I want in life is to be seen as a unique individual, and partly because I knew right away that I wanted to turn this new skill into a business. I was intent on developing my own style.
Even with determination on my side, it took a long time - about 2.5 years - of practice & experimentation to really get there. Mostly due to a ton of self-doubt...and honestly, because I was just trying to make things that I thought people would buy! For the first year or so, I made the mistake of looking at what was out there already & thought “okay, that’s what people like, so that’s what I’ll do”. And I really lost myself for a little while there.
At a certain point I got fed up, and then I got re-inspired. I started looking within myself. I analyzed my practice sheets & past projects, tried to pinpoint what made them look like mine versus. anything else you could find on Pinterest. Finally, after much soul-searching, I started looking at my work & feeling like it was truly mine.
Ever since then, there’s been a serious shift in the kind of work I’ve been getting hired for. Some of it comes from learning about business-y things (hello, SEO!), but I truly believe that it’s mainly because I’ve put the work into creating art that stands out, and I’ve finally started to focus on what I do best. I’m sure that my style and the confidence it gives me is the reason for the incredible projects I’ve been fortunate enough to have booked for the past few years, and the financial stability and creative recognition that has come with that. I truly don’t think that my path would have lead this way if I hadn’t taken the time to develop a mindful practice instead of an aimless one, and finally find my creative voice.
For people who are starting out, the idea of having a truly unique style might feel impossible, because the number of letterers out there these days seems to be exponential. But there is always room to innovate, to stand out, to make work that others can clock from a mile away as yours and no one else’s. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice, experimentation, and patience. But you can totally get there, and it is absolutely worth the effort. Style is part inherent, and part intentional. It’s already in you, you just have to care enough to manifest it.
I believe in learning the rules before you can break them. I believe in honing your skills. I believe in striving for a high level of artistry. But I also believe that all of that is meaningless if you’re not also expressing yourself inside your work.
TL/DR - Here are the primary steps to finding your own unique calligraphy style:
What I mean by “Mindful” Practice is making sure that instead of just ploughing through calligraphy practice sheets, you focus on practicing with intention. You can do this in a few ways; I usually suggest turning your calligraphy practice time into a gorgeous little self-care moment -
If you know me at all, you know I’m not exactly the most analytical person. I approach almost everything coming from an emotional place instead of a logical one. But one thing I try to look at with a critical eye, at least a little, is my artwork. This goes back to the whole mindfulness concept - yes, repetitive & consistent practice is a great way to hone a skill - but taking the time to pause and look at the strengths & weaknesses in your work will be exponentially more effective.
The only way to discover your untapped talents & passions is to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment! Nobody can become an expert without first just experimenting and seeing where it takes them. Experimentation is a way of reaching a new level of artistry and unlocking our potential with new techniques . By adding new mediums, colours, and textures to your repertoire, you increase your chances of finding what truly resonates within you and inspires you to create your best work yet.
So. All of that to say, if developing your style is important to you and you want to go on a big emotional creative style discovery journey with me, where we basically listen to Lana del Rey & cry into glasses of red wine but then come out the other end as fabulous, successful calligraphers...I made a class for you!
In addition to the course itself which is full of video & audio instruction plus over 50 pages of practice sheets & style development exercises, anyone who purchases during the sale will gain access to the following (crazy) bonuses:
The Calligrapher’s Template Handbook (An E-Book full of all the e-mail templates & policies I personally use in my business, and then some!) ($19 Value)
The Calligraphy Prompt E-Book, so you never have to ask the question “What Should I Write?” again
The digital version of my Calligraphy Workbook & Teaching Materials that I use for Workshops & Private Lessons (“Intro to Modern Calligraphy” Workbook, Set of Blank Guidelines, and a Booklet of Warmup Exercises) ($100 Value) PLUS A License to use these materials to teach calligraphy to others (Because who wants to spend a billion hours putting together a workbook? It’s a hell of a lot of work, my friend) ($300+ Value)
A Set of Instagram Highlight Covers for Wedding & Event Pros ($19 Value)
A Behind-The Scenes Tutorial on how I plan my Instagram aesthetic & colour scheme (Priceless)(Just kidding) (I mean, kind of, I don’t sell this anywhere so there’s literally no price, l-o-l)